Jim Nelson is a retired Montana Supreme Court justice.
Have you ever thanked God that you never lived in Nazi Germany? Well don’t get off your knees just yet; you might still find out what that was like.
Donald J. Trump is straight out of fascism’s central casting. Think Adolf Hitler (who Trump seeks to emulate and whose rhetoric he echoes), Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (whose legacy and tactics he endorses), Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (whom he supports, and who is the darling of the reactionary GOP and Fox News), and Russian President Vladimir Putin (with whom Trump is bonded).
If elected, Trump intends to be America’s first dictator in the mold of the foregoing authoritarians or “strongmen,” as Ruth Ben-Ghiat described in her book Strongmen, Mussolini to the Present.
Trump (along with Stephen Miller, and other lickspittles and sycophants) has not kept his plans for America secret. Indeed, formal plans for a second Trump presidency have names—Project 2025 and Agenda47—and come complete with a 920-page policy book from more than 400 contributors, orchestrated by the right-wing Heritage Foundation.
Here are some of the authoritarian policies Trump has in store for us if elected in 2024:
- Hiring and training an army of 54,000 loyalists ready to hit the ground on inauguration day, to be appointed to government jobs and positions vacated when the civil service, administrative agencies, FBI, Justice Department, and intelligence agencies are purged of Trump’s enemies;
- Aggressively rounding up unauthorized immigrants, to be held in detention camps to hold aggressively rounded-up, unauthorized immigrants, pending their deportation by the millions each year;
- Reviewing military officer promotions “to prioritize the core roles and responsibilities of the military over social engineering and non-defense related matters, including climate change, critical race theory [and] manufactured extremism”;
- Invoking the Insurrection Act on Trump’s first day in office, and declaring martial law so as to use the military against political opponents and unrest and protests on election day;
- Criminally prosecuting those designated by Trump for “retribution,” and “revenge” including President Joe Biden and his family, Democrats, and former cabinet, staff, military officers, and public officials deemed “disloyal” when Trump was president;
- Politicizing the federal civil service and undermining laws aimed at preventing corruption and cronyism;
- Totally controlling federal agencies that presently operate with a great deal of independence, with all reporting directly to Trump;
- Ending separation between the White House and the DOJ, which prevents presidents from using prosecutions for political purposes;
- Dehumanizing political opponents, by, for example, referring to them as thugs and “vermin”;
- Gutting the justice system and firing career prosecutors;
- Gutting the national security and intelligence apparatus;
- Requiring local law enforcement agencies to use controversial stop and frisk practices;
- Banning travel to the U.S. from certain Muslim countries.
Trump has openly and defiantly proclaimed these plans. Indeed, his vitriol and promises, coming from a candidate for the highest and most powerful office in the free world, are without precedent.
Trump, who sometimes comes across as paranoid, functions on the basis of only three premises: (1) will it make me look good?; (2) will I make money doing it?; and (3) will it allow me to seek revenge and retribution on my enemies?
He has no concern for political norms or customs; he has no concern for the rule of law; and he has no concern for our country, its citizens, its institutions, its government or its Constitution. He is a pathological liar. He promises be judge, jury, and executioner; a law unto himself alone. He promises to be America’s dictator-in-chief.
Americans will have two choices in the 2024 election: vote for democracy, or vote for Trump. If you vote for the latter, stay on your knees and practice your one-arm salute.
Top photo of Jim Nelson provided by the author and published with permission.